Updated: Jan 20
When you’re stressed out, the foods that you’re turning to are most likely going to be traditional "comfort" foods – think big meals, take-out, fatty foods, sweet foods, and alcohol. Let’s face it – we’ve all found some comfort in a tasty meal and a bottle of beer or glass of wine when we’ve been stressed out or upset about something. You don't need me to tell you these eating habits aren't the best solution for coping with stress.
When you’re turning to unhealthy foods you can feel soothed temporarily, but in the long run, you will feel worse. (Sometimes within 10 minutes.) When your body isn’t getting the right nutrition, you can begin to feel less energetic, more lethargic, and in some cases less able to concentrate and focus. All of this can lead to even more stress.
Foods that Fight Stress
If you’ve been feeling more stressed out than usual lately, it’s important to know which foods are best to choose and which to avoid when it comes to combating stress and helping you to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety. The best way to fight stress is to have a healthy, balanced diet which includes a moderate amount of each of the different food groups.
Filling up on foods such as whole grains, leafy vegetables, and lean proteins as the basic staples of your diet is the best way to ensure that your body gets the optimum amounts of nutrients to fight both physical and mental health problems. When it comes to choosing the foods to eat, some have a range of great properties which help the body to combat stress. Choosing these stress-busting foods will help to heal and calm your mind permanently, rather than providing a temporary fix.
Putting Together Your Diet Plan
Planning your meals wisely is key to not only staying physically fit and healthy, but also to staying mentally strong and being able to best manage your levels of stress. Knowing which foods to avoid and which are the best to reach for to snack on when you’re feeling worried and anxious is important to helping you get control over how you handle your emotions and fears.
When you’re feeling stressed, you may be tempted to reach for classic "comfort foods" – usually foods which are laden with sugar, very starchy, or greasy. However, although these foods can make you feel momentarily better, they will actually make you feel worse in the long run.
"Cravings are not about food. Cravings are about stress." – Melissa Hartwig
Having stress-busting snacks such as fresh berries, dark chocolate, yogurt, walnuts or pistachios, or even a fruit smoothie with avocado and leafy greens in it can help you to feel better in both the short and long term when it comes to stress. When it comes to combating and dealing with stress in the long run, it’s important to make sure that for the most part, you are eating a diet which is healthy and balanced.
In order to stay on track, it’s a good idea to make a meal plan for your week and plan ahead to make sure that you have a good selection of these stress-busting foods in your kitchen to make meals and snacks from when you’re feeling like stress-eating. Making sure that the majority of your meals include foods such as lean proteins and leafy green vegetables will not only make you feel healthier overall, but can improve your mental health and stress levels, too.
Stress-Busting Menu Ideas
A good example of a healthy, stress-busting menu would be:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries or a fruit smoothie with avocado and berries
Mid-morning snack: Natural yogurt with fruit or a handful of pistachio nuts
Lunch: A whole-grain pasta salad filled with plenty of leafy greens
Afternoon snack: Dark chocolate
Dinner: Grass-fed beef with vegetables
Before bed: Chamomile tea
Of course, you don’t need to stick to this menu – but it gives you a good idea of where to begin! Remember to exercise good portion control when eating foods such as nuts, chocolate, yogurt or avocado! As the saying goes, you are what you eat – so make sure that first and foremost, you’re filling yourself up with foods which are good for your mental health.
Convenient Nutrition for Stress
When your body isn’t getting the right nutrition, you can begin to feel less energetic, more lethargic, and in some cases less able to concentrate and focus. All of this can lead to even more stress. Understanding your diet and how your emotions and mental well-being relate to food and nutrition is the first step. Accepting that we might need more help than a diet change is also crucial as it relates to mental well being and a healthy gut. Convenient nutritional products that I keep on hand at all times are plant-based protein powders, SuperFood, and SuperSeed, and adrenal support to supplement my diet choices and flood my body with nutrition every chance I get. You can get those here: Buy Now.
Nelea Lane, CMWC